A Young Widow and a Horse

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After I bought Gigi I boarded her a local facility outside of town. I was there almost every single day. It was the highlight of my days and it just didn’t feel complete until I at least checked on her. I was so grateful, and still amazed, that I finally owned a horse again after so many years.

Spending time with Gigi was like a form of meditation. No words were spoke and we were always in the present moment. No matter how much was happening or how I was feeling before I got to the barn, it would all fall away when I got to her. Even if I was having a tough emotional day, it was quickly overcome by the peace and focus that Gigi’s presence brought.

Eventually I would nickname her Super Gigi, not just because of barrel racing with her but because of the incredible impact she had on my life. She now even has her very own hashtag, #SuperGigi.

A lot of time together was spent riding, but the time spent together during her massages and PEMF blanket treatments was also a wonderful time of bonding and healing.

While I was moving forward with my life, I was still healing after the loss of my husband, Tyler. More than anything Gigi brought my focus to the present. She drowned out the pain in the past and worry of the future. She helped bring my focus to the blessings in the moment.

After being around horses for a while the magic can wear off and complacency can take it’s place. Some people don’t stop to think that this 1,000+ lb animal has the power to easily hurt you and that it is a pretty amazing thing that they allow us to do so much with them.

So many people have benefitted from the power of the acceptance and love felt by a horses willingness to trust and follow them. It is a powerful experience especially to people that have never interacted with horses.

Beyond those magical experiences, the energy of a horse is healing in itself. Just to sit quietly in their presence can drown out the world and break through even the most calloused of hearts.

It has now been over 2 years since I found Gigi and she has been a beautiful blessing to me. She continues to help me grow, to conquer fears, to take my own unique path and remind me to never give up. Every day I walk out to the barn and her whinny I am so grateful.

Horses are truly heart healers and Super Gigi has helped heal mine.

Never Give Up,

Chelsey

http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson

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International Widows Day

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WIDOW…….What kind of feeling or image does that conjure when you think of this word? Today is International Widows Day, just a little PA, if you hadn’t heard!
Black, grief, death, loneliness, these are all things that often are associated with widows by the world and what we grow up seeing as an image portraying widows. But, as I was forced into this description by the death of my husband, I slowly learned to shake off those stereotypes and join women that have emerged from the depths of loss and grief to become more than they ever thought they could be.
These women have become leaders within the community of widows(ers) and our world. Instead of being enveloped in darkness until their last day, they have become the light in this world, focused on helping others and living life FULLY. Small things are no longer taken for granted, just the feeling of peace or contentment for a brief moment….was such amazing blessing after losing Tyler. Also, receiving support and love from friends, and strangers alike, in my darkest time of need, has opened my scope of vision. I now see how connected we really all are, and can be.
I hope that I am helping to shape the image of widow into something far from our long held stereotypes of women adorned in black left to live quietly alone with their grief for the rest of their life….and into an image of strength and resiliency that shines brightly in spite of the darkness, leading the way towards a better world for everyone.

http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson

#NeverGiveUp

 

#WidowsRock

Chelsey

Photo borrowed from one of the widows, Christina, who has inspired me to share my story out loud. A big thank you to her.

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Is it Better Now? Throwback Thursday….a Journal Entry from June 8, 2011.

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June 8, 2011 Journal/Blog Entry……Is it Better Now? Almost a year after Tyler passed away, I share where I was on my journey.

LIFEINTHEYEARS

Today I went to have t-shirts made for the memorial skydiving event being put together for my husband. We had them made last year at the same place but a friend took care of it since I was obviously out of commission.

When I showed last year’s t-shirt to the woman she said ” It’s been a year already? I can’t believe it.”

I said “yeah, no kidding.”

“I remember him. He was a good guy (assuming from what she was told by my friend last year).”

I replied, “he was my husband.”

**Sorry’s & etc exchanged**

Then she says “My cousin was just killed in a car accident. He was in the military, deployed multiple times and made it home safe every time. Then he dies in a car accident and left his fiance behind. Well they weren’t engaged with a ring, but they talked about it and he had the ring. On his way to ask her he was killed.” (3 months ago)

Eventually she says the cousin’s fiance is not doing so well and asks me “is it easier now?”

I didn’t know what to say. This woman has talked to me more about my husband and what I think/feel than anyone else around me in the last few months. I am grateful for the interaction, but had to think about my answer. This is not the first time I have been approached on the subject though. A friend’s family member was widowed just recently as well, and I was sought out to talk with her. Which I was very glad to do, but I wonder if I am a magnet for this type of thing now? Anyone else? It makes me think of the cognitive effect (which my Psych professor would be quite disappointed with me since I cannot remember what is called :S) where if you buy a specific car you start seeing it everywhere whereas you never noticed them before.

I said “In some ways yes, it is easier, but it has also become harder in different ways now.”

She seemed satisfied with that answer.

Overall I can say just having the relief from the intense pain, both physically and emotionally from losing my husband probably warrants a simple “yes” to this answer but it is more complicated than that. The pain is now a dull, constant ache that is like the left over from a severe injury that has only healed partially and will never be the same again. It can also illicit searing pain when hit, taking you back to the day it was inflicted because of this….just look at my last post for proof of that.

But, I can also enjoy nature again. After sitting at the beach watching a beautiful sunset the other day, I rode my bike back home with my dog through the neighborhoods toward my house. It was twilight, about 70-75 degrees, quiet except for the random cricket, and smelled like pine trees mixed with freshly mowed grass.

I looked at the lavender sky and breathed in deep. I got choked up. I was happy. I thought at the moment, “I remember this. This is what being happy feels like. I am actually content right now.” It was the first time I had thought that, especially alone. I thought of Tyler and smiled as I pedaled my way home with our dog.

So is it better now? Maybe. In some ways. Some days. Yes?

Part 2: I’ve Never Been A Widow Before

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Sadness. It is a useless emotion. I believe that it is necessary and has to be indulged to make it through our grief (and believe me, I indulged) but, it will not help you get anywhere new. Now anger, anger is a motivating emotion.

I was a walking ball of sadness and grief I was devoid of energy especially the first months after Tyler’s death. I could barely function. I was just surviving as a dehydrated, never hungry, zombie with bloodshot, aching eyes. I was lost. I had no power and I let others take care of me. Which is fine, that is what friends are for but at some point, I gave up all of my power to be me and had few opinions on anything or that I could muster the energy to express in contrast with someone else’s when it came to me, my husband, or our life.

This would have some detrimental repercussions in the long run because one day, I would be strong again and the sadness would finally be overtaken. I would finally regain full consciousness and some people weren’t going to like it. It was more change and we had already had quite enough of it by then. They were used to the widowed and broken me. Really I was just a shadow of my real self at the time.

Around 6 months, I woke up. I remember exactly when it happened. I was at the bank talking to them about finally taking his name off the accounts and all of a sudden it was like I snapped into the current time after living the day he died over and over…every, single, day. I would waiver back and forth after that, but never again would I go back to being completely overtaken by grief for months at a time. It was then I realized how much I had let go and how much I wish I wouldn’t have. I then realized that while I had many people supporting me, my weakness had also been taken advantage of by a a few.

Then I was angry. With myself, my situation and those that I allowed to take over. The good thing was I was finally awake and I realized I wanted to live not just exist. I wanted to live my life fully like I knew Tyler would have wanted me to. One thing about him was no one (except maybe me) ever told him what he was going to do. I knew this and knew he would say “who gives a damn what they think!”. I would smile and gain a little more confidence every time I thought of him saying that. He was well known for his bluntness.

I finally wanted to make the most of the time I had and now I wanted to do it in my own way.

Of course, after all this time of being an agreeable pile of moldable clay, obviously, it was going to be a tough transition for those around me to handle my sudden desire for independence. Even more difficult would be the courage for me to speak up and muster the courage to actually DO what I wanted and thought was best for me. Many people wouldn’t give this so much thought or struggle with just doing what they decide to do, but I was too worried about doing what others wanted me to do or thought was what I should be doing. Even with Tyler’s words ringing in my ears, I was struggling.

I would liken that time to a baby deer learning to stand. I was going to give it my best but there was no way around the fact that it was going to be awkward (VERY awkward at times) and I was going to make mistakes.

But hey, I didn’t know what I was doing! I had never been a widow before.

ayesno

Visit my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson

My Mission

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For those of you who are new to my FB page and blog, I want to tell you a little more about my mission here. I am a Navy Veteran and Gold Star Wife. I lost my husband, Tyler, in 2010. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of my military family.

Currently, I am living out one of my dreams working with horses and competing in barrel racing. An endeavor that has also brought much healing. My heart is still very much with my military community and I want to do more with the amazing opportunity I have to pay it forward. There are so many great non-profits out there I don’t want to start another one. I decided instead to help those that already exist accomplish their mission.

I am striving to be an ambassador for our Veterans and Gold Star Wives in the rodeo and horse community. I travel to races and rodeos I want to share and support the great organizations and Patriots that support these special groups of Americans. I am adding patches of those organizations and memorials to my race shirts. I hope to expand that to stickers/banners on my trailer as well. My goal is to start a dialog and share the many ways to support our Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Gold Star Families. Of course, honoring the memories of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is extremely important to me as well.

My Blog and Facebook page is intended to serve as a place to share my journey as a Veteran, Gold Star Wife, and Barrel Racer. I hope that my story will inspire others facing life changing difficulties to #NeverGiveUp and follow their calling.

Please help me with my mission! Follow me here and SHAREthis page http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson .

If you are an organization or business that supports our Veterans or Gold Star families that would like to work together please contact me on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/chelseystimson

Many thanks and God Bless!

And #NeverGiveUp!

Chelsey

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Take Pride In How Far You Have Come And Have Faith In How Far You Will Go…Blog Entry From June 1, 2011

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“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out”
John Wooden

My blog/journal Entry from June 1, 2011

So I have been absent from the online world for a couple weeks. It was kind of nice to rest my eyes a bit. For the first time I can say I was so busy that I really didn’t have much time to obsessively be on the computer.

It has been a roller coaster (as per usual I guess) the last month. I am still in that outgoing tide motion I guess. I am feeling okay and optimistic, then find myself stalling and being slowly pulled back out to feeling overwhelmed and helpless. There are new challenges as time goes on. It has almost been a year and life seems to be waiting on the other side, which I know many have discovered that on day 366 there is no miracle recovery….but I also feel that after 12 months of being in limbo and feeling that I have a good excuse for not having my life together, will run out. This is mostly a self-imposed feeling of course, but really I wonder….

What I am going to do with the rest of my life?

There it is.

Waiting.

I imagine it like a cat in the dark waiting to pounce, and all I can see are it’s expecting eyes as I am forced towards it by time. I know it is inevitable and that I am crashing head-long into it, sometimes with fervor and sometimes being drug behind Father Time on a black horse. I wish I could say I am 100% in at this point, but a lot of the time I am half-hearted about it. My motivation has not fully returned.

I try to focus on the potential life that I would like to have if I still have to be here, but sometimes it just seems impossible to attain and then I hit a wall of sadness and helplessness. My motivation comes from hope for the future, and it is hard to maintain that hope. I am constantly battling the winds of doubt, fear and the past from snuffing out my flame of optimism.

I am also laughing, joking, accomplishing small goals, taking risks, and feeling a bit of my old self from years ago that has a bit of mischief and adventure in her eyes….thinking of possibilities, dreaming, and taking steps towards making some of them happen.

I want to make something out of this life I have left. I don’t want to go on unsatisfied, disillusioned and settle for less than what I started out for years ago. I don’t want to hear that it may never happen, that this is the way things are now, that life is unfair, or that wanting or doing any of these things is wrong or unrealistic. I want to try, I am going to take risks, I am going to take life by the scruff and have it follow me instead of being mauled and defeated.

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Isn’t amazing to look back to when we couldn’t even imagine where we are today? I know the day I wrote this I couldn’t have imagined my life as it is today! Horses, love, confidence, and an opportunity to help and encourage others. Yes, there has still been challenges, loss, and tears since then, but I have come far from the darkness of the early days.
Journaling is such a great tool to help us express ourselves and heal in the moment, but also to encourage and heal us in the future when we look back and see how far we’ve come. Widowhood can bring a particularly vague vision of the future. Hang in there and believe that great things are just around the corner and God has amazing plans for you. Take action, be open to opportunities, take risks and have faith in God. Great things are coming your way. Never give up. *Chelsey

The Beginning and The End

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I wanted to share some of my writing with you as I work on my book. Mostly I am just writing my experience. I also journaled after Tyler passed away to help deal with my grief, both on paper and online. I am very glad that I did, as sometimes it is hard to remember some things and I can see exactly where as was at specific time intervals.

Every book has a beginning and mine starts with an incredibly painful ending. It is easy to overlook how much pain and darkness someone has had to wade through when you see them smiling and happy. It may look deceptively easy and maybe even result in  people thinking “so what’s the big deal?” (sadly). So, I feel it is important to share the darkness and pain, so that it is understood what it takes to get back to a place of happiness and hope. It sometimes takes a very dark walk to appreciate the light. I would love to hear feedback, please don’t be shy!

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Much of the first months after Tyler passed were a blur of emotion. Though we had his memorial within days of his death, he could not be buried in Arlington until much later. Any progress I may have made by the day of his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery was lost and I had to start all over.

Receiving the flag from his casket was extremely surreal, yet the pain was searing and heavy. I almost felt as if I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to leave after the ceremony; I didn’t know what to do. I could have stayed there all day if they would have let me. But instead, I was swept up in the forward motion of the people around me and the schedule of Arlington.

The days and nights in those months were incredibly difficult and painful. One night in particular, after everyone had left and I was at our home alone for the first time after he had passed away reality sunk in even deeper as I became acutely aware of my solitude. I had been waiting for him after he died, just as I had waited for him for over the years to return home from training trips and deployments. I started to realize that night when I kept thinking I should call him and then realize that he wasn’t going to answer ever again. Then the thoughts started flying through my mind, finally breaking through the fog, each one slamming into my heart and shattering it further.  He was never coming home again, I’d never see him again, never hear his voice again, all our plans meant nothing, they would never happen….our life and everything in it seemed to lose all meaning and just be floating in suspension.

That night I felt as if my chest was caving in and my heart was being ripped out of my chest. I screamed and cried. I didn’t know that kind of pain existed until then and it was terrifying. I felt completely alone, lost and wished that I could have died right along with him. Nothing made sense or held meaning. The only thing that would give me a trickle of guilt and purpose at first were my dogs, which still relied on me. They would lay on the bed next to me and I imagined they knew what happened and were sad too. Perhaps they were, or maybe they just sensed my sadness and stayed close to comfort me.

Blog/Journal Entry 11/15/10

I think all situations have their specific hardships, beyond the obvious one we all share (in widowhood). 
I remember staring out the window, wanting to go see him, so confused, my brain wouldn’t let me understand. Why couldn’t I go to the hospital? I needed to be there to make him feel better. But he was never in the hospital. He had already died, about 3 hours before I even knew about it and instantly. I didn’t see him for days. It drove me crazy the entire time, I remember just being in shock, staring and staring out the window, waiting for him to come home or for me to be able to go to him.

When we finally got to go to see him (at the funeral home) I had to sign paperwork, etc. first apparently. It was a lot of standing around, talking, and I was about to lose it and scream at everyone. He was just in the next room and obviously he was waiting for me. It was almost like as time was going on it was diminishing my chances of bringing him back. When I saw him and his casket I literally ran to it. And then instantly cried and cried. I couldn’t bring him back, I couldn’t help, but I did feel a little better that he wasn’t waiting anymore. I also thought that he didn’t look like himself and he would be irritated with how his hair looked. It made me smile for a nanosecond. I did feel much better to be with him, and if they would have let me I probably would have climbed right in and said “see ya, I am going wherever he is going”.

But I didn’t. I just left a note with everything I wanted him to know, in his hand.

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Never Give Up,

Chelsey